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Patents That Kill

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the no-medicine-for-you dept.

Patents 240

wabrandsma (2551008) writes From The Economist: "The patent system, which was developed independently in 15th century Venice and then in 17th century England, gave entrepreneurs a monopoly to sell their inventions for a number of years. Yet by the 1860s the patent system came under attack, including from The Economist. Patents, critics argued, stifled future creativity by allowing inventors to rest on their laurels. Recent economic research backs this up."

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First (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652551)

Post!

Re:First (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652577)

Post!

Why was this modded down? This is probably his single accomplishment in life. Let the man have this one thing!

Re:First (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652661)

Because its a tired old meme that rotted into dust years ago. It is deserving of being modded down..

Personally, I cant wait for that pathetic shark laser head frickin meme to follow suit. But there are still a large enough number of pathetic people who continue to mod it as funny to this day.*

* go ahead, mod me down. But ill become more powerful than you could ever imagine. Do it.

Re:First (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652685)

go ahead, mod me down. But ill become more powerful than you could ever imagine. Do it.

It's a trap!

Re: First (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653057)

Slashcode should auto insert a first post post. Then the meme will become "second post!".

Oh ya fuck beta since there is no captcha required to post anonymously on mobile.

Prior art (4, Funny)

penguinoid (724646) | about 3 months ago | (#47652717)

It's a word-for-word copy of an entire post made by someone else. The copyright for it will expire in 2150, give or take, unless more copyright extensions are added before then. Until then said post is infringing on copyright and must be taken down.

Re:Prior art (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652983)

I'm pretty sure that I AM am the original author!

Re:First (1)

meerling (1487879) | about 3 months ago | (#47652729)

He's off topic, so no.
Oh wait, I don't have any mod points. :p

Yes, but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652555)

We don't live in a rational society, we live in a thinly-veiled jungle.

And this is the same for copyrights. (3, Insightful)

WolphFang (1077109) | about 3 months ago | (#47652581)

And this is the same for copyrights.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (4, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | about 3 months ago | (#47652635)

I think we need reasonable limits on just about all "intellectual property". For copyrights, the content creator's remaining natural life plus ten years, or 40 years total, which ever is longer. For patents, there should be a requirement to produce and sell the idea in the patent after a few years or to demonstrate a reasonable attempt to do so, and that different kinds of inventions should have different lengths of patent protection.

I want people to get paid for their work, but at the same time, if that work has caused significant cultural change then there should be a point when that work is released to that culture, instead of licensed to that culture for a fee.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652709)

I think we need reasonable limits on just about all "intellectual property". For copyrights, the content creator's remaining natural life plus ten years, or 40 years total, which ever is longer. For patents, there should be a requirement to produce and sell the idea in the patent after a few years or to demonstrate a reasonable attempt to do so, and that different kinds of inventions should have different lengths of patent protection.

I want people to get paid for their work, but at the same time, if that work has caused significant cultural change then there should be a point when that work is released to that culture, instead of licensed to that culture for a fee.

De-couple control of the invention or work, from the financial reward.

In other words allow anyone to sell the invention or copies of the work as they please but also allow the patent/copyright owner to claim against the sale. If the seller doesn't cough up the cash the IP owner can sue, including damages. Details surrounding rules about what percentage goes to the inventor/original copyright older and what remains with the seller would be complex to work out, but it would certainly be no bigger a mess than the current system. The key advantage is that no one could lock up the work and the public gets to decide how much an original is worth vs derived works. Hoarding would no longer work as a strategy but there would still be money to be made in creating new things.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (5, Insightful)

meerling (1487879) | about 3 months ago | (#47652741)

Since a stated reason of the copyright and patent systems are to encourage creation, how does letting someone collecting money off of one thing their entire life, much less after they are dead, encourage them to continue to do more work to keep getting their paycheck?

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (4, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 3 months ago | (#47652821)

Well for great feats of man, more investment is required. Could Pixar have been kickstarted for ToyStory 1? I think they went to great lengths because there was more money to be made.

I agree there should be a limit on copyrights, but it shouldn't be much more than 10 years. At this time, people can use your characters and such, but guess what, after 10 years of the public enjoying something, it is a part of their life too.

Finally, everyone remember radio? Radio was invented way before it was it actually became reality. Why? Because everyone had patents on different parts of the radio and they didn't want to collaborate. I hear it wasn't until around WWI that the government stepped in to be able to use it for the military.

Anyone who thinks patents help the little guy haven't seen troll lawsuits smack little guys senseless. Anyone who thinks patents help the little guy haven't seen big corporations crush their competitors they perceive as a threat.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 3 months ago | (#47652831)

I guess I didn't complete my thought:

Patents have gotten so out of hand that many patents for obvious things have been granted. Anyone who writes any software typically trips over dozens of obvious patents. And corporations collect thousands of obvious patents so they have the right to sue anyone they please.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (5, Insightful)

Sarius64 (880298) | about 3 months ago | (#47652963)

OMG What will Capital Records and Disney do if they could only own their IPs for 10 years? Billionaires would starve and their kids would only have 15 lifetimes worth of money to inherit! Perish the thought!

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (0)

dk20 (914954) | about 3 months ago | (#47653477)

Where are my mod points when i need them?

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (1)

mpe (36238) | about 3 months ago | (#47653191)

Finally, everyone remember radio? Radio was invented way before it was it actually became reality. Why? Because everyone had patents on different parts of the radio and they didn't want to collaborate. I hear it wasn't until around WWI that the government stepped in to be able to use it for the military.

IIRC something similar happened with aviation.
It goes back rather further than that. Patents had a big influence on the first road vehicles at the beginning of the 19th century.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653363)

Well for great feats of man, more investment is required. Could Pixar have been kickstarted for ToyStory 1? I think they went to great lengths because there was more money to be made.

When studios makes that kind of investment they only look at what they predict the movie to make the first year.
So that is an argument for having a copyright that extends 1 year after the work has been made accessible to the public.
The only thing a 10 year copyright is good for is for record companies to release collection albums of old hits instead of producing new ones, entirely against the purpose of copyright.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (1)

umafuckit (2980809) | about 3 months ago | (#47653045)

I know this is the popular stance on this site, but the reason is obviously to promote risk-taking. Many (most) creations never see the light of day. The patent system has some inherent usefulness, however it's somewhat corrupt and the terms under which patents are granted do indeed discourage innovation. I don't even think the system works very well for promoting inventions from small entities. I saw a talk by a researcher who invented sticky material based on gecko feet. The material is interesting because it's not "glue-like" and doesn't get less sticky over time. To manufacture it, he contacted a bunch of companies (big ones). I presume he had a patent, but I'm not certain of this. The best offer he got was in the low tens of thousands. They more or less told him that he wouldn't get a better off and if he asked for more they would go ahead without him.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653281)

For a story teller, someone might decide to write that one last story before they die in the hopes of providing for their family. Otherwise they might not tell the story.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (1)

xelah (176252) | about 3 months ago | (#47653633)

If someone has built a bridge, how does letting him collect tolls from that one thing for its entire life encourage them to continue to do more work? Well....the same way they were encourage to build the first one, because they'll get paid for it. You think people don't consider the possibility of ongoing income from something when deciding if it's worth doing (or worth handing an author an advance for, or investing in research for)?

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (4, Insightful)

ATMAvatar (648864) | about 3 months ago | (#47652787)

Why should a copyright ever extend past the life of the author? For those 10 years you propose after the author dies, what additional works will that author create as a result of the additional copyright protection? And will zombie works be good enough to be worthy of copyright protection?

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653593)

It should be allowed to continue after death. I'm guessing you don't have a wife or kids. I think payments should continue for 18 years after death

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653707)

That doesn't explain why they should continue. My job isn't going to pay my family for 18 years after I die - why should yours just because you're a 'creative'?

What is going to pay them though is the insurances set up whilst I was living, any survivors benefit from my pension annuity, my savings, etc. that I have bought/saved to prepare for my eventual death, if I was that worried about it. An author/musician is just as capable of setting these things up as your or I.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653647)

Revoking the copyright at the death of the author would create a reason to have the author killed.
In fact it is retarded to have it connected to the authors death at all. It should be from the creation of the work or when it was made available to the public only.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#47652817)

I think we need reasonable limits on just about all "intellectual property".

TFA makes the opposite point that, at least for pharmaceuticals, the time limit is too short. After a drug is patented, it must go through a long series of testing, and once it is approved, there are only a few years of profit before the patent expires. So Big Pharma concentrates on drugs for critical illnesses, like late term cancer. That way they can run the test and get a die or no-die result quickly. They have little incentive to develop long term preventative drugs, because decades may go by before the result is clear, and the patent has long since expired. Since preventative drugs are often far more effective, this is a perverse incentive.

My opinion is that most patent durations should be shortened, and we should get rid of most patents for medicine, and find a completely different way to fund pharmaceutical R&D.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (2)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 months ago | (#47653093)

except big pharma games the system, where they release a drug under patent protection, then shortly before the patent ends, they re-patent the drug to cover some other condition, then say that generics can't make the drug for the first condition because they can't prevent it from being used for the second.

and in Canada, we are helpfully extending our patent time limits under the still secret Canada-EU trade agreement that Harper just signed. The Canadian people are too stupid to understand it, so we can't find out what he agreed to.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 3 months ago | (#47653491)

Dont forget the magical "reformulation" trick to extend the terms as well. "this is not the same drug, this is the super-time-release formula model 29" and should be treated as a new drug with a new term.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (3, Interesting)

Artifakt (700173) | about 3 months ago | (#47652889)

The problem I see with any life+ based duration, is it selectively rewards people who have a big hit that keeps coming back into print early in their careers, and then live a long time afterwards, and the converse of that is it punishes the author who doesn't have much success until late in life, or worse, gets his or her career cut short by a fatal illness. You've suggested a system that (sort of) fixes the later case, but it doesn't address the first half of the problem. Also, any life plus system is going to look like a better deal if the author has heirs he or she cares about, and less of a deal if they don't. If the whole goal under the Constitution is to provide an incentive, we have to look very carefully at how some people may or may not feel "incentivised".

          To show you how your system might have worked if it had been in effect all along, lets take two Fantasy/SF/Horror authors:

          First, H. P. Lovecraft. His first real hit of a story was 1926, with Call of Cthulhu. Just about everything that got reprinted when he first gained posthmous popularity was written after that. Then he died of Bright's disease, in 1937. Under the system of that time, most, if not all, of his work was still in copyright. But, it was still the great depression, and after that, there were the wartime paper shortages, so Life +10 would leave his work coming out of copyright just about when there starts being a chance of it getting printed. With your 40 year clause, some of his original copyrights would have lasted until about 1974, by which time he was starting to be reevaluated, and effectively expired just about the time his work finally caught on. Under the system actually in effect, most of his work was still under copyright until well after the first film adaptation (Dean Stockwell and Sandra Dee in the Dunwich Horror). He did not have any direct heirs, and probably would not have believed as he wrote his last works that there was any chance he was leaving a literary estate that might actually become worth more than the cost of a cup of coffee. His closest heirs were a pair of aging aunts, and by the time there were payments, they went to very distant relatives indeed.

        Second, Michael Moorcock. He starts writing professionally at 15, and some of his biggest successes were written by the time he was 20. In his 70s now and still going strong, he'd enjoy life +10 on most of his work, and it's not inconceivable that Life +10 might apply even to his most recent books. I don't know if he even has direct heirs, but he has been married a couple of times and had some living relatives, so I suppose it's at least somewhat likely there are children, or perhaps nieces or nephews. Under the existing system, he would theoretically have a longer period of protection, but that may not matter in practical terms. The older US or British systems, current law, or your system are likely to leave him about the same, financially, but current law is, in theory, better for him. However, it's a mystery to many people why his work hasn't been optioned more by Hollywood, to the point of a completed film or six. Your system just might ding him financially, if there are people who are hoping to get film rights cheap after he dies - they could just wait 10 years and let copyright on such Characters as Elric of Melnebone expire completely. Rationally, a shorter term may matter not at all or a great deal to him, but not just for the money.

 

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 3 months ago | (#47653493)

It's silly to punish authors who have a big hit when they are young, by cutting short the copyright on their works, solely because there may be other writers who become successful only late in their life. A life+ copyright doesn't punish late bloomers, only their heirs. And the purpose of copyright is not to ensure an income for writers' offspring, in fact I think the system should be life, not life+. The heirs are welcome to whatever fortune a writer is able to amass, but not to the IP.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653541)

Any term length based around the lifetime of the author runs into two problems:
1) It motivates unscrupulous parties to arrange the early demise of "unaccommodating" popular authors (not necessarily directly, but getting them hooked on hookers and blow can be quite fruitful to that end)
2) Corporations are also able to hold copyright, and can never die.

I'm inclined to suggest having a fixed term for copyright (maybe 20 years or so), but a life+ term for the moral rights (inalienable or not). This allows the public access to old works, but allows the creator a continuing say over how those works are re-worked.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 months ago | (#47653085)

why does it have to continue on after the creator dies?
why not just a straight up fixed term, like 10 years?

certainly most stuff now makes their money fairly quickly, and the only thing long copyright length does [for the majority of things covered by it] is basically a lottery hit [way down the road, something randomly becomes super-popular for no particular reason, like the rick-roll].

does anybody believe any band of the last 100 years went "man, there's no point to writing this song if we don't get paid royalties from it for at least 25 years after we die"

movies make the vast majority of their money in the first couple of years, between the movie theatre release, then DVD/online movie sales.

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (1)

Plunky (929104) | about 3 months ago | (#47653481)

why does it have to continue on after the creator dies?
why not just a straight up fixed term, like 10 years?

This.

In fact, I'd say that a fixed term is so overwhelmingly easier to participate in that it should unquestionably be the case. When you see the phrase "Copyright (c) 2001 John Thomas" then you can know that after N years, then the work is available for you to reproduce.. you don't have to track down all the possible John Thomases who claimed the copyright and find out if they are still alive or if they died in obscure circumstances some years ago, or if they were a corporation and the copyright term is a different beast. Although I agree that a short fixed term

like 10 years?

is actually reasonable, I would certainly support simplifying the laws to use a longer fixed one.. and I'm also sure that the copyright cartels are completely comfortable with the current state of affairs which are vague and in their favour and would fight tooth and nail to prevent such a change

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (2)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 3 months ago | (#47653155)

Even for copyright it's sometimes way too long. And when a company is registered as the creator, what happens then?

For work of fiction the copyright is OK if it's until 2 years after the demise of the author (which shall be enough to bring a closure), but outright abuse of a work should be protected for longer (People doing porn or nazi propaganda of children's books etc.) [Insert Godwin here] However Satire and Humor tweaks of the works is already OK on works under copyright, and is not a big deal anyway - even though some people don't understand that.

For computer software the copyright should end no later than 12 months after the public support of the software ends. This means that since Windows XP no longer is supported it should be "open" for use sometime next year if that rule was followed. This is also more in line with reality - software companies aren't usually really making money out of old major releases anyway. And if they think that they will, then it will be in their interest to keep long support terms.

For patents I agree that they are stifling innovation, and there's no prize for second place - even though independent patent applicants can file for patent almost simultaneously. The patent system today is more a monopoly situation, and also too lax in allowing patents for obvious solutions.

Absolutely (5, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about 3 months ago | (#47652663)

I wish I could find the link, but no luck so far. There was a speech given to the house of lords in England in the 1700s where an attorney argues that copyrights are only beneficial to the copyright owner, which tends to not be the artist where the copyright is intended. Print shops would demand copyright to print a book, but of course they would pay the artist a few pennies for their troubles. The speech covers a well known English auhor's family woes after his death. Even though he was a well known author and sold enough books that he should have been wealthy, after he died his family was left destitute. The reason was because a publisher owned all of his copyrights and his family never received a penny in royalties.

Of course the copyright holder (publisher) was suing the house to extend copyrights, because it's so beneficial to the economy.

A bit off topic I realize, since TFA is about patents. The thing is though, the arguments stay the same. It is not like John the inventor gets to hold his patent and benefit, it's more like John the inventor's patent was 90% owned by the company he worked for because they sued him for the rights.

Some things never change. This has a lot to do with why they try and make backroom laws like TPP, CISPA/SOPA type laws, etc.. Rational people would point out the flaws, so in the US we just make the discussions a matter of national security so people don't know. Thank goodness a few companies got on the bandwagon with CISPA/SOPA, but the next versions are not being discussed publicly and are works in progress in the Senate and House.

Re:Absolutely (5, Informative)

Calavar (1587721) | about 3 months ago | (#47652691)

I found it for you: It was Lord Camden speaking about Donaldson v. Beckett. The full case proceedings can be found at http://www.copyrighthistory.co... [copyrighthistory.com] . Lord Camden's commentary is quite long, so I won't copy/paste it here, but you can find it on the linked page if you search for "Lord Camden spoke as follows"

Re:And this is the same for copyrights. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 months ago | (#47653501)

No it is NOT,copyrights are waaaaaaaayyyyy fucking worse! Patents are to copyrights what a cyst on your ass is to rectal cancer. After all PATENTS END while copyrights are "forever minus a single day" thanks to the fucking house of mouse.

In a nutshell: (5, Interesting)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 3 months ago | (#47652593)

Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices.

- Thomas Jefferson

Re:In a nutshell: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652647)

Did Thomas always write in long winded sentences punctuated with an excessive number of commas?

Re:In a nutshell: (2)

The Evil Atheist (2484676) | about 3 months ago | (#47652657)

It was the writing style at the time. Strunk and White were not alive back then.

Re:In a nutshell: (2)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about 3 months ago | (#47652801)

Not specifically a written law.
The practice started in Rome in the first couple centuries BC. Powerful men were granted license to exclusively produce something. Sometimes it was because they were doing something new. Sometimes because they owned the mine. Patent didn't mean new, just verified.
The meaning of words change over time.
As for the patent system, England did not invent it. Look to Italy.

Re:In a nutshell: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653459)

until we copied her

Is it too late for England to claim a patent on patents?

1860 (1)

jsh1972 (1095519) | about 3 months ago | (#47652601)

The Ec onomist was around in 1860? The more you know!

Re:1860 (2)

Calavar (1587721) | about 3 months ago | (#47652675)

I know you're trying to point out a supposed grammatical mistake, but yes, the Economist did exist in 1860. A quick Google search suggests that it was in print since 1843.

Re: 1860 (1)

jsh1972 (1095519) | about 3 months ago | (#47652679)

I know, I was being serious for once! Actually learning something on Slashdot, what's the world coming to

Re:1860 (1)

pieterh (196118) | about 3 months ago | (#47653307)

The Economist was, ironically, founded as a "free market" newspaper, in a period when that meant specifically, the fight against the patent system. I.e. that was its first purpose, to argue against the re-establishment of the patent system in Britain.

Re:1860 (1)

Kirth (183) | about 3 months ago | (#47653497)

Should be online. Most of the issues. Unless it was pulled. I couldn't connect, so here's the archive.org link: https://web.archive.org/web/20... [archive.org]

Looks like Gale fucked it up: http://gdc.gale.com/products/t... [gale.com] They seem to have paywalled all the public domain material. Bastards!

Re:1860 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652743)

The Ec
onomist was around in 1860? The more you know!

They made a typo. It is Eco-nomist, the new threat for the next Ghostbusters film. It is a proving to be a difficulty battle.

Economist Article is Exceedingly Precise (1, Troll)

Strangely Familiar (1071648) | about 3 months ago | (#47652605)

"The patent system encourages pharmaceuticals to pump out drugs aimed at those who have almost no chance of surviving the cancer anyway. This patent distortion costs the U.S. economy around $89 billion a year in lost lives." When I read this, I felt that the Economist article lost all credibilty. It is very hard to know anything about the actual monetary effects of patents in the economy. Then add the uncertainty of drug research, and the uncertainty of lives that are saved even with known drugs (not imagined drugs stimulated by an hypothetical patent system). And then, placing a dollar value on the saved lives. Really? $89 billion. Not $93 billion? Not $400 million? Not 800 billion? Are you sure lives are not actually saved under the current regime, compared to most alternative non-distorted patent systems? Given the uncertainties, getting the right order of magnitude would be a challenge, and two significant digits is absurd.

Re:Economist Article is Exceedingly Precise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652643)

It is very hard to know anything about the actual monetary effects of patents in the economy.

How did this crap even become a law to begin with, then? There should be strict scientific standards before any restrictions can be imposed on anyone, and even then we should be wary. The burden of proof is on those proposing the laws, and that doesn't change just because the laws were made by people with no standards in the first place.

Re:Economist Article is Exceedingly Precise (0)

Strangely Familiar (1071648) | about 3 months ago | (#47652677)

"...the laws were made by people with no standards in the first place." I think you are right. Thomas Jefferson had no scientific evidence when he wrote patents into the constitution, passed the first patent laws, and examined the first patents. He was a very dumb person, with no standards!!!!! He should have randomly divided the country into sections, randomly assigned some sections to have a patent system and others not to have a patent system, and then ascertained the monetary effects of a patent system on the different sections of the country using double blind techniques. Only then should he have been allowed to write patents into the constitution.

Re:Economist Article is Exceedingly Precise (1)

Strangely Familiar (1071648) | about 3 months ago | (#47652701)

You moron! Jefferson wasn't even at the Constitutional Convention! He did not write patnets into the Constitution!

Re:Economist Article is Exceedingly Precise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652777)

And then, placing a dollar value on the saved lives. Really?

It is done all the time. With admittedly imperfect information as to an individuals future worth (could be the next Einstein, or the next Hitler), one assigns a statistical number for the value of a life. An average life. Which exactly matches no one. But is used in the statistics of insurance rates, and Government regulations (a trillion dollars for each saved life is not going to pass), and reimbursement rates in survivor benefits in large scale loss of life (WTC). Not exactly fair to anyone in particular, only in aggregate. Yes, every life has a value.

Patents That Kill Small Animals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652609)

The title is extremely misleading

I was very disappointed in the actual topic

Re: Patents That Kill Small Animals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652637)

Oh okay, I went ahead and RTFA.

Still disappointing, since it's really the lack of patents that is killing people.

the patent on killing (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652673)

The patent on killing should have expired ages ago. That undead bastard Caine has been resting on his laurels ever since.

Re:the patent on killing (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 3 months ago | (#47653153)

That undead bastard Caine has been resting on his laurels ever since.

Didn't you see him as Alfred in the Nolan Batmans?

Robin Williams dead at 63 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652681)

Wish I was trolling. Google before you mod. I predict this will generate at least 1000 comments. Don't give me that shit about it not being news for nerds. Nanu-nanu. There. Sci-fi. Now shut up and be sad with teh rest of us.

Re:Robin Williams dead at 63 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652705)

Robin Williams wanked himself to death, but what dreams may come?

will not stop repeating the obvious (1, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 3 months ago | (#47652683)

Patents [slashdot.org] and copyrights [slashdot.org] must [slashdot.org] be abolished [slashdot.org] .

Let the people compete in the market based on the trade secrets.
Of-course government institutions like FDA need to be abolished as well.

Re:will not stop repeating the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652759)

you're an idiot

Re:will not stop repeating the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652849)

He's not just an idiot, he's crazy! Yeah, trade secret, we put cocaine back in Coca Cola. Because that's what would happen if the FDA went away. Really nasty things would get marketed toward us as "trade secrets".

Re:will not stop repeating the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652909)

Everything will become trade secrets making it impossible or extremely difficult for others to build on previous discoveries.

The best example believe it or not of patents working is the computer industry. Every single component in your computer is full of dozens if not hundred of patents belonging to dozens or more different companies. Yet computers in real terms just get more powerful and cheaper. Moores law has been holding up well for 50 years, if patents had been an impediment surely mores law would suffer from patent restrictions rather than the laws of physics.

Re:will not stop repeating the obvious (1)

Raumkraut (518382) | about 3 months ago | (#47653325)

Moore's law doesn't suffer under the current regime, because Moore's law was written within the current regime. There's no telling what would happen, or what would have happened, in the microelectronics industry without the current patent rules. Perhaps Moore's law would have been "...doubles every 6 months", instead of 18 or 24 months?

What products covered by "dozens if not hundreds of patents belonging to dozens or more different companies" do is encourage collusion and anti-competitive practices, and even in the absence of abuse massively raise the bar for new entrants to the market (aka competition).

Re:will not stop repeating the obvious (1)

udachny (2454394) | about 3 months ago | (#47652945)

People have the right to decide for themselves what to buy and consume. USA cannot even have sunscreen that wasn't designed before 1998, and while the rest of the world is enjoying uva and uvb protection that lasts the entire day, Americans have skin cancer epidemic all while FDA is expecting sun screen manufacturers "to prove efficacy". Talk about crazy idiots and their online sympathisers. [tampabay.com]

Re:will not stop repeating the obvious (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 3 months ago | (#47653595)

And how do you make an informed decision if everything is a trade secret and there is no FDA to make people tell you what is win their crap? Here rub this egg all over you, you will not get cancer, I promise.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652727)

Dear Arm-Chair Economists and Young Professional Economists:

In case you didn't know, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is awesome! They have a ton of talent working there, both economists and IT geeks. The paper cited in the summary was written by researchers there. And they're the ones who built FRED, the world's most amazing portal to economic data. http://research.stlouisfed.org/

Everybody loves to complain how modern economics suffers from too much modeling and ideology, and not enough solid empirical research. Well, they do empirical work in St. Louis like none other. That place just blows my mind, especially when you consider all the junk "research" performed by other organizations, including, sadly, many universities.

Alternatives? (1, Insightful)

penguinoid (724646) | about 3 months ago | (#47652731)

The main problem is, what do we replace the patent system with? Can we rely on only government-funded research (which may become a crony system or refuse to fund politically incorrect things)? Can we rely on people inventing things as a hobby?

I'm not against patents per se, but the approval rate of illegitimate patents is astronomical and the period is too long (would have to be different lengths based on different things).

Re:Alternatives? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652767)

You replace patents with nothing. Empirical research has shown that patents don't do squat and lead to less overall innovation and wealth creation than without patents.

There are many ways to research it empirically. You can compare/contrast countries where one country disallowed patents in a particular field. You can compare/contrast where one country had a stronger patent regime than another in the same field. (It goes without saying you want to look at countries with similar industrialization levels). You can compare across fields in the same economy by, for example, looking at innovation in a field with weak--or no--IP protection with a field with stronger protections. And you can use historical or contemporary data.

Anyhow, there are many sources of empirical data to judge the efficacy of patent policies. It turns out that when you do rigorous research and look at all the data, patents are a net loss across the board. The only place where patents arguably make sense according to empirical data is in pharmaceuticals, but only because without patents companies provably couldn't afford the regulatory cost imposed upon them by the FDA. But FDA regulation is has been shown to be too strict and unnecessary at current levels. So we'd be better off with a market free of patents (more, cheap drugs with higher efficacy), as long as some other regulations were changed.

You can read a short book describing all the arguments and with a summary of the empirical research. It's called "Against Intellectual Monopoly", and one of the authors also wrote the paper mentioned above.

See http://www.amazon.com/Against-Intellectual-Monopoly-Michele-Boldrin/dp/0521127262/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Free version is here: http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstfinal.htm

People love to use hypotheticals to defend patents and IP in general. But at the end of the day it's an empirical question, not a question of theory. Common hypotheticals always have unstated premises which even in classical economics are not necessarily true. When you look at the empirical data, those hypotheticals and their premises are shown to be bogus.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

kanweg (771128) | about 3 months ago | (#47652837)

Of course, the people in the country A without patents could read the patents of the people in the other country B (or could copy the patented products themselves because their inventors didn't take their inventions to the grave because they were not willing to let others parasite on their effort). It would be a better comparison if you'd looked at the situation where the people of country A couldn't do that. Oh, wait.

Applicants for patents pay serious money for having a patent application drafted. It gets published after 18 months, usually before the applicant knows before he will be able to secure a patent. Yet, society gets all this information. And you can find it on espacenet.com. With mechanical translator, if you can't read the language. You can download PDFs of it. You can use all the information in there to learn even use it (if the patent has lapsed, or was never applied for in your country). The cost to you, or any company? FREE.
Let me turn this around, the ones who don't use this free information are bad for the economy. I wonder whether that was part of the study.

Anecdotal evidence. I'm a patent attorney and a client wanted to use particular technology but a competitor had a valid patent on it. My client came up with something better. Wouldn't have happened if the other patent hadn't been there. A patent was applied for and society learned about something better.

Bert
For software, there shouldn't be patents. I can argue why.

Re:Alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653351)

You seem to not grasp what "empirical evidence" means. It means that it can be explicitly shown that the net effect of patents is negative - in terms of both economy and innovation.
Patents are based on the fallacy that innovation is rare, yet the long history of parallel development and simultaneous invention show that; once all the prerequisites for an innovation become available, advancing the art becomes inevitable.

Re:Alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653423)

>he people in the country A without patents could read the patents of the people in the other country B

If you know some people with the ability to read patents, may you send them here ? We never found one.

Re:Alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653473)

My client came up with something better. Wouldn't have happened if the other patent hadn't been there. A patent was applied for and society learned about something better.

But most of the times something better is an improvement on something good. If the good thing has a patent on it, anybody else than the patent holder cannot build on it to make something better. They will not even think about improving it because they are barred from using it in the first place.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

apraetor (248989) | about 3 months ago | (#47653007)

I think the key would be to find a way to retain the essential component of patents -- the requirement that the patent-holder must file documents detailing how the patented technology works. Without the monopoly the company would have little reason to disclose their secrets, but reverse-engineering would also now be legal. Right now "innovation" is a leap-frog game being played with products that are almost-but-not-quite identical to the competition. Without patents I think the leaps would become larger, as companies actually have an incentive to do real research, so as to jump far enough ahead that the competition can't get ahead of them.

Re:Alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653067)

Even in the absence of patents, companies still have an incentive to develop new inventions: they get the market to themselves for however long it takes their competitors to copy them (which might be anything from a month to a year or so). If that's the "ideal" patent period - and it probably is for some industries - then introducing patents provides no additional benefit, and costs a lot of overhead.

Figure, Figure, Figure (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 3 months ago | (#47652739)

The idea of patents going in to play was to enable an inventor to benefit from his work. Now we are seeing some information that patent protections stifle economies and progress. Both views are probably correct when applied to specific patents. A patent can work for or against progress. Here is the catch. We can't stand still and debate nonsense philosophies while the world moves on. Socialism or capitalism become the dance that all players get in set with. The reality is that technology is taking us to a world where ideas like socialism and capitalism simply have no validity at all. Human workers are vanishing. Pensions and retirement plans are also usually nothing to count on or value. With companies going off shore and merging and the like the notion of stock in a corporation is not likely to be valid either, We need to urgently start to get rid of these concepts for good. They no longer are valid. Many bright people can not confront this issue at all. But it is real and it is happening right now. So we need to be done with all that nonsense otherwise people will repeat useless behaviors. For example when a suburbanite has an issue they call a congressman. But congress is no longer a living entity. They are way too busy fussing over who is the most savage capitalist and being bribed to stay in their jobs. Soldiers can not count on the VA when disabled. Our wealth is murdered by inflation and endless outcries from the public make it next to impossible to use land that one owns. If you think your company will honor its pensions then you are foolish. Social Security will pay out as it should but the value of the money will make those checks a joke. We need to eliminate the house and the Senate completely. And we need to burn our law books and rewrite the entire body of law that applies everywhere, to everyone, every time. How can we have law when our leaders who approved of torture have not been tried for war crimes? Even Richard Nixon was guilty of felonies yet there was no jail for Nixon. His vice president Spiro Agnew was convicted of receiving bribes. Make note that Agnew did not go to prison. Yet we put people in prison for cashing a bad check or shoplifting some junk items. Just like the Arab nations our legal heritage is in the crazy ward or junk yard.

Re:Figure, Figure, Figure (3, Interesting)

Required Snark (1702878) | about 3 months ago | (#47652805)

Since the end of the Cold War Russia and the USA have been following the same economic/political path: control by oligarchy/elites. In Russia the balance is that the government holds power over the oligarchs and they do the government's bidding. In the USA the government does the oligarch's bidding. Given a long enough time the two systems will differ only in insignificant details.

Russia never had long period of democracy, so the slide to authoritarianism does not have that far to go. The USA has a much longer democratic tradition (except for women, racial minorities, Native Americans, etc.) so it it taking longer to eliminate democratic forms of government.

Still democracy is slowly dieing in the USA, as evidenced by end of independent journalism, most criminal court cases being decided by plea bargains, the increasing costs of elections and the dysfunction of the legislative branch, the polarization of the Federal judiciary (the Roberts court decision on the Voting Rights Act) and the inability of the President to make deals with the Congress. (Note to Republicans: when there is a Republican President and the Democrats control the House and/or Senate, they will be just as unwilling to cooperate in running the country as in the current division of political power. Don't whine when you get bit by your own strategy.)

Re:Figure, Figure, Figure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653219)

Still democracy is slowly dieing in the USA, as evidenced by end of independent journalism, most criminal court cases being decided by plea bargains, the increasing costs of elections and the dysfunction of the legislative branch, the polarization of the Federal judiciary (the Roberts court decision on the Voting Rights Act) and the inability of the President to make deals with the Congress. (Note to Republicans: when there is a Republican President and the Democrats control the House and/or Senate, they will be just as unwilling to cooperate in running the country as in the current division of political power. Don't whine when you get bit by your own strategy.)

Hardly a Republican "original" strategy - "opposition party" politics is a longstanding tradition going back hundreds of years to the origination of the term.

But one need not go back centuries or even decades - one need only look at the Democrat party strategy during the bush years, both before and especially after 2006 to see this same exact political strategy at work.

Of course..intellectual honesty and consistency clearly arent your agenda...hence the posting..

Re:Figure, Figure, Figure (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 3 months ago | (#47653615)

He never stated that the Republicans came up with it, but that it is currently their strategy...

Patents are not the problem. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#47652781)

Lazy and ignorant patent judges are the problem.

They allow people to patent stupid things that shouldn't be patentable THAT is the problem. Not patents themselves.

Re:Patents are not the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652807)

Patent judges accept anything by default because too many applications are being filed.
They only check if the patent application is correct.
Only when you file a prior-art complaint, they start looking into the actual validity of the patent.

Re:Patents are not the problem. (1)

Xenx (2211586) | about 3 months ago | (#47652869)

Or, according to /. earlier today. The people approving the patents are actually doing whatever the fuck else they want, instead of their job, and getting paid for it.

Re:Patents are not the problem. (1)

bentcd (690786) | about 3 months ago | (#47653461)

Or, according to /. earlier today. The people approving the patents are actually doing whatever the fuck else they want, instead of their job, and getting paid for it.

Which may be rational enough. Patent examiners are educated, intelligent people and they are inside the patent system so they know it well. They probably realize what a complete and unmitigated disaster it is from end to end and figure they have better things to do with their lives than try to polish a turd.

They do like the wages though.

Re:Patents are not the problem. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#47653183)

There is evidence of incompetence in the department as in many. Clean house, set standards, level the blame where it belongs, and move on.

Parents that kill (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652793)

Am I the only one who thought that was the title at first?

pharmaceutical patents (3, Insightful)

silfen (3720385) | about 3 months ago | (#47652799)

Overall, I agree that patents don't help much with innovation. However, I think pharmaceutical patents, unlike most other patents, do, in fact, encourage innovation. The fact that they encourage the wrong kind of innovation (minor variations on existing drugs) is not a problem with patents per se, it's a problem with the costs and risks of FDA approval: it's much safer to develop a small variant of an existing drug than to develop a completely novel drug for untreatable diseases.

Sorry, guys, you can't have it all: lots of innovation, safety, and low cost. Pick any two.

Re:pharmaceutical patents (1)

Jahta (1141213) | about 3 months ago | (#47653521)

Overall, I agree that patents don't help much with innovation. However, I think pharmaceutical patents, unlike most other patents, do, in fact, encourage innovation. The fact that they encourage the wrong kind of innovation (minor variations on existing drugs) is not a problem with patents per se, it's a problem with the costs and risks of FDA approval: it's much safer to develop a small variant of an existing drug than to develop a completely novel drug for untreatable diseases.

Sorry, guys, you can't have it all: lots of innovation, safety, and low cost. Pick any two.

No offense, but you don't know much about the pharmaceutical industry. Ben Goldacre's book Bad Pharma [wikipedia.org] is a good place to start. And this article [theguardian.com] explains how, contrary to being great innovators, the big pharmaceuticals are running down their own R&D in favour of cherry picking the work of small biotech outfits and publicly funded researchers and rebranding it as their own.

Re:pharmaceutical patents (1)

mdfst13 (664665) | about 3 months ago | (#47653569)

The fact that they encourage the wrong kind of innovation (minor variations on existing drugs) is not a problem with patents per se, it's a problem with the costs and risks of FDA approval: it's much safer to develop a small variant of an existing drug than to develop a completely novel drug for untreatable diseases.

Perhaps, but this is still addressable by changes in the patent system. In particular, they could change pharmaceutical patents to have three periods: testing, restricted use, open use. The testing period would last as long as necessary, perhaps longer than patent periods are currently. The restricted use period (primarily for antibiotics) would last as long as the approving agency desired. The open use period would last for a defined length of time (perhaps eight years). The effect would be to increase the open use period for new drugs and decrease it for retreads.

The current system makes it difficult for a pharmaceutical company to extend the testing phase. Each additional year in testing is a year lost from being able to actually sell the drug. This produces bad results, as companies are terrified of extending the testing period. If the patent period were shorter but only started *after* testing was finished, this perverse incentive could be removed.

So I read the article (1, Insightful)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | about 3 months ago | (#47652827)

Not a single death was reported. Hey, here's an idea: don't make your headlines misleading. Patents might not be my favorite thing in the world, but unless they are literally killing people, then this headline is horseshit. The Economist just got added to my blacklist for that. Good job, jackasses!

Re:So I read the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653607)

Not a single death was reported.

The claim is that the patent system causes companies to focus away from survivable sicknesses in favor of minor extensions of fatal illnesses. According to this study, this causes "$89 billion a year in lost lives". They don't explain how many lives this is, but I'm pretty sure that's more than one person. More like thousands of people.

QR story (0)

phanvan79 (3782127) | about 3 months ago | (#47652861)

WTF? why modded up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47652955)

WTF is this? an empty google plus page. Why is it modded up?

At first I thought it must have been taken down; but now I'm trying to imagine why someone would want you to click on their page.

Patent reformers just have the wrong perspective (2)

felixrising (1135205) | about 3 months ago | (#47653173)

No No NO! You are obviously not earning enough money from patents to appreciate the money that is being earned and therefore you must be wrong! We must fight this attack on patents!

Make the cliff of patent expiration gradual? (1)

non0score (890022) | about 3 months ago | (#47653273)

One way to avoid the patent cliff (and perhaps foster innovation) is to use double declining balance deprecation in accounting. As in, if a patent-holding company sues another company for patent infringement, then the final damages will be reduced by the fraction of the residual value. So patent-holding companies will be compelled to innovate, since at some point less than lifetime of the patent, another company may decide to violate it anyway since it's economic to do so.

Of course, I have no idea how this would apply to embargos.

Melancholy Elephants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653613)

Whenever I read an article on here about extending copyright or patent durations, I'm reminded of the short story Melancholy Elephants. Full text available at http://www.baen.com/chapters/W200011/0671319744___1.htm [baen.com] . Well worth a few minutes' time.

200 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47653705)

" ... developed independently in 15th century Venice and then in 17th century England".

It seems to me that 200 years is time enough for an idea to make its way from Italy to England, isn't it?

Maybe Venetians just forgot to patent their patent system...

Let's remember recent changes in EU (50=95 years) (1)

Kartu (1490911) | about 3 months ago | (#47653725)

Reality: in EU copiright on Elvis Presley's work was about to expire. (original term was 50 years)
Viola, it's 95 years now.Justifications:

1) Not a guaranteed lifetime income (yikes): "McCreevy said that, with longer life expectancy, 50 years of copyright protection did not give artists a guaranteed lifetime income."
2) Poor european performers would suffer: "'If nothing is done, thousands of European performers who recorded in the late 1950s and 1960s will lose all of their airplay royalties over the next 10 years', McCreevy said. "
3) Why are composers better than performers: "'I have not seen or heard a convincing reason why a composer of music should benefit from a term of copyright that extends to the composer's life and 70 years beyond, while the performer should enjoy 50 years, often not even covering his lifetime', McCreevy said."

And last, but not least: "The proposals (to increase copiright from 50 to 95 years) were widely welcomed by the music industry."
From: http://www.elvis.com.au/presle... [elvis.com.au]

My point is: NONE of the arguments are in line with the original intent.
None of the big players wants the system to drastically change either. Unless serious part of electorate starts to care, things are not going to change.

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